Antoine Dominique Sauveur Aubert (born 1817), the Artist's Uncle
Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence)
Oil on canvas
31 3/8 x 25 1/4 in. (79.7 x 64.1 cm)
Wolfe Fund, 1951; acquired from The Museum of Modern Art, Lillie P. Bliss Collection
Not on view
In the autumn of 1866, while living at his family’s home near Aix-en-Provence, Cézanne undertook a series of paintings of his maternal uncle, Dominique Aubert, in different costumes. Here, he dons a robe and tasseled blue cap; in another work in the Museum’s collection, he poses as a monk (1993.400.1). A friend reported in November: "Every day there appears a [new] portrait of him." Cézanne applied his paint directly with a palette knife on the coarsely woven canvas, giving these pictures what he called a "gutsy" character.
Probably the sitter, the artist's uncle, Antoine Dominique Sauveur Aubert, Arles (until summer 1899; presumably one of twelve works by Cézanne sold to Vollard); [Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1899; sold July 10 with a "tête de femme" by van Gogh for Fr 1,000 to Rosenberg]; [Alexandre Rosenberg, Paris, 1899; purchased for equivalent of $120; sold for $180 to Pellerin]; Auguste Pellerin, Paris (ca. 1899–1916); [Josse Hessel, Paris, 1916–20]; [Marius de Zayas, New York, 1920–at least 1921; sold to Bliss]; Lizzie (Lillie) P. Bliss, New York (ca. 1921–d. 1931; bequeathed to the Museum of Modern Art); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1931–51; cat., 1942, no. 83; 1948 ed., no. 127; sold to MMA)
Paris. Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. "Salon d'automne," October 1–22, 1907, no. 2 (in the "Exposition Rétrospective d'Oeuvres de Cézanne," as "L'Homme à la blouse blanche," lent by M. Pellerin, possibly this picture) [see Rewald 1996].
New York. De Zayas Gallery. "Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec," February 26–April 9, 1921, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings," May 3–September 15, 1921, no. 4 (as "Portrait of the Artist," lent anonymously).
Brooklyn Museum. "Summer Exhibition of Modern French and American Painters," June 12–October 14, 1926, no catalogue (as "Self Portrait," lent by Miss L. P. Bliss).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh," November 7–December 7, 1929, no. 1 (as "Self Portrait," lent by a private collection, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Memorial Exhibition: The Collection of the Late Miss Lizzie P. Bliss, Vice-President of the Museum," May 17–September 27, 1931, no. 1 (as "Self Portrait [L'Avocat]," bequeathed to Museum of Modern Art).
Andover, Mass. Addison Gallery of American Art. "The Collection of Miss Lizzie P. Bliss: Fourth Loan Exhibition," October 17–December 15, 1931, no. 1 (as "Self Portrait [L'Avocat]," bequeathed to Museum of Modern Art).
Indianapolis. John Herron Art Institute. "Modern Masters from the Collection of Miss Lizzie P. Bliss," January 1932, no. 1 (as "Self-Portrait [L'Avocat]").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "The Lillie P. Bliss Collection," May 14–September 12, 1934, no. 1 (as "Man in a Blue Cap [Uncle Dominic]").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Modern Works of Art," November 20, 1934–January 20, 1935, no. 1 (as "Man in a Blue Cap [Uncle Dominic]").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Art in Our Time," May 10–September 30, 1939, no. 56.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Cézanne: Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings," February 7–March 16, 1952, no. 5 (as "Uncle Dominic," lent by the Museum of Modern Art).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cézanne: Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings," April 4–May 18, 1952, no. 5.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Cézanne: The Early Years, 1859–1872," April 22–August 21, 1988, no. 22 (as "The Man with the Cotton Cap [Uncle Dominique]").
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Cézanne: les années de jeunesse, 1859–1872," September 19, 1988–January 1, 1989, no. 22.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Cézanne: The Early Years, 1859–1872," January 29–April 30, 1989, no. 22.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Origins of Impressionism," September 27, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 25.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Cézanne," May 30–September 1, 1996, no. 7 (as "Uncle Dominique [Man in a Cotton Cap]").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne & Pissarro 1865–1885," June 26–September 12, 2005, no. 7 (as "Dominique Aubert, the Artist's Uncle [Homme au bonnet de coton (L'Oncle Dominique)]").
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Cézanne in Provence," January 29–May 7, 2006, no. 9 (as "Uncle Dominique in a Cotton Cap").
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 72.
Eliot Clark. "Considerations on Modernistic Aesthetics." Art in America 9 (August 1921), ill. p. 213, calls it "Self Portrait".
Loan Exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1921, p. 4, no. 4, ill., dates it before 1870.
Georges Rivière. Le Maître Paul Cézanne. Paris, 1923, p. 204, ill. opp. p. 10, calls it "L'Homme au bonnet de coton" and dates it 1877; identifies the sitter as Cézanne's uncle Dominique; erroneously places it in the Berlin museum.
"Art of the Moderns in a Notable Show." New York Times (July 4, 1926), p. SM24.
Roger Fry. "New Laurels for the Scorned Cézanne." New York Times Magazine (May 1, 1927), p. 6, ill., calls it "Paul Cézanne, Painted by Himself".
Kurt Pfister. Cézanne: Gestalt/Werk/Mythos. Potsdam, 1927, fig. 33, calls it "Der Mann mit der Wollmütze" and dates it about 1877.
A[lfred]. H. B[arr]. Jr. First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1929, pp. 19, 33, no. 1, ill., dates it before 1870.
R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, p. 309, dates it about 1865.
James Johnson Sweeney. "The Bliss Collection." Creative Art 8 (May 1931), p. 357, mentions the influence of Courbet in this picture; states that "it is in such a work we first find the genius of Cézanne effectively declaring itself".
A[lbert] H. B[arr]., Jr. Memorial Exhibition: The Collection of the Late Miss Lizzie P. Bliss, Vice-President of the Museum. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1931, pp. 11, 19, no. 1, ill., dates it before 1870.
Georges Rivière. Cézanne: le peintre solitaire. Paris, 1933, ill. p. 21, dates it 1868 and erroneously places it in the Berlin museum.
Jerome Klein inThe Lillie P. Bliss Collection. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1934, pp. 5, 9, 21–22, no. 1, fig. 1, dates it about 1865; lists five additional portraits of Uncle Dominique and notes that they are different from the self-portraits in physical appearance and conception.
Alfred H. Barr Jr., ed. Modern Works of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1934, pp. 11, 23, no. 1, ill., dates it about 1865.
Lionello Venturi. Cézanne: son art—son oeuvre. Paris, 1936, vol. 1, pp. 21, 82, no. 73; vol. 2, pl. 19, no. 73, calls it "L'homme au bonnet de coton" and dates it 1865–67; catalogues eight additional portraits of Uncle Dominique (nos. 72, 74–77, 79–80, 82).
René Huyghe. Cézanne. Paris, 1936, pp. 12, 32, 67, fig. 11, calls it "L'Oncle Dominique" and dates it about 1865; erroneously locates it in both the Pellerin collection and the Reber collection.
Robert J. Goldwater. "Cézanne in America: The Master's Paintings in American Collections." Art News Annual, section I (The 1938 Annual), 36 (March 26, 1938), p. 136, calls it "Man in the Cotton Cap"; discusses the "solidity and repose" of this picture and two portraits of Uncle Dominique in private collections (V77, R104; V76, R103) in comparison to the intensity of Cézanne's self-portraits.
R. H. Wilenski. Modern French Painters. New York, , p. 10, pl. 3, calls it "L'oncle Dominique" and dates it about 1866.
Sheldon Cheney. The Story of Modern Art. [4th reprint, 1947]. New York, 1941, pp. 210–12, ill., dates it about 1866; compares its pictorial structure to Daumier.
[Paul Rosenberg]. Paintings by Cézanne (1839–1906). Exh. cat., Paul Rosenberg & Co. New York, 1942, p. 19, under no. 1, recounts that when his father [Alexandre Rosenberg] bought this picture for $120, no one appreciated Cézanne, leading his father to sell it to Pellerin for $180, with a letter stating "'I am glad to have found someone crazier than I am, to buy this work at a price higher than the one I paid'".
Alfred H. Barr Jr., ed. Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1942, p. 30, no. 83, ill., calls it "Man in a Blue Cap (Uncle Dominique)" and dates it 1865–66.
John Rewald. The History of Impressionism. New York, 1946, ill. opp. p. 40 (color), calls it "Man in a Blue Cap (Uncle Dominic)" and dates it 1865–66.
Bernard Dorival. Cézanne. [English ed., 1948]. Paris, 1948, pp. 29, 133, 142, dates it 1865–67.
John Rewald. Paul Cézanne: A Biography. New York, 1948, p. x, fig. 17, calls it "Portrait of Uncle Dominique" and dates it about 1866.
Liliane Guerry. Cézanne et l'expression de l'espace. [1st ed.; 2nd ed., 1966]. Paris, 1950, p. 28, notes that all of the paintings of Uncle Dominique were executed with a palette knife.
John Rewald. The Ordeal of Paul Cézanne. London, 1950, pp. vii, 36–37, pl. 4, calls the sitter one of Cézanne's favorite models and notes that he was a bailiff.
Daniel Catton Rich inCézanne: Paintings, Watercolors & Drawings. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. [Chicago], 1952, pp. 16–17, no. 5, ill., dates it 1865–67; calls it the most intense of a series of spontaneous portraits, "some of them done in a single afternoon".
Lawrence Gowing and Ronald Alley. An Exhibition of Paintings by Cézanne. Exh. cat., Royal Scottish Academy Building. Edinburgh, 1954, unpaginated, under no. 2, date the series of paintings of Uncle Dominique between August and December 1866, while Cézanne was in Aix.
Maurice Raynal. Cézanne. Lausanne, 1954, pp. 23, 30, ill. (color), calls it "The Man in a Blue Cap" and dates it 1865–67.
Melvin Waldfogel. "The Bathers of Paul Cézanne." PhD diss., Harvard University, 1961, vol. 1, p. 30, calls the Uncle Dominique series "the beginning of Cézanne's education as a modern painter" and notes in it the influence of Courbet and Manet.
Yvon Taillandier. P. Cézanne. New York, , pp. 15, 28, ill. p. 9 (color).
Wayne V. Andersen. "A Cézanne Self-Portrait Drawing Reidentified." Burlington Magazine 106 (June 1964), p. 285, erroneously locates it as still in the Museum of Modern Art.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 96–97, ill., as "Uncle Dominic"; refer to it as "one of the richest in color of the paintings of this period".
Margaretta M. Salinger. "Windows Open to Nature." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (Summer 1968), unpaginated, ill., dates it about 1866.
Richard W. Murphy et al. The World of Cézanne: 1839–1906. New York, 1968, p. 27, ill. (color), dates it 1865–67.
Sandra Orienti inL'opera completa di Cézanne. [French ed., 1975; English ed., 1985]. Milan, 1970, pp. 88–89, no. 56, ill., dates it 1865 and erroneously locates it as still in the Museum of Modern Art.
Marcel Brion. Paul Cézanne. Milan, 1972, p. 14, fig. 2 (color), dates it 1865–67.
Meyer Schapiro. P. Cézanne. Paris, 1973, unpaginated, ill., calls it "L'Homme au bonnet de coton" and dates it 1865–67.
Nicholas Wadley. Cézanne and His Art. London, 1975, p. 19, colorpl. 11, calls it "Uncle Dominique (The Man in the Blue Cap)" and dates it about 1865–66.
Lionello Venturi. Cézanne. Geneva, 1978, pp. 52–53, ill. (color), dates it 1865; calls it probably the most important of the series.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 429, 441, fig. 788 (color), dates it 1865–66.
Richard Shiff. Cézanne and the End of Impressionism. Chicago, 1984, pp. 204–5, 266 n. 30, fig. 45, dates it about 1865–67.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 176–77, 253, ill. (color), calls it "Dominique Aubert (Uncle Dominic)" and dates it to the fall of 1866; notes that because each of the paintings in this series was executed quickly in an afternoon, with thickly applied paint, they have developed cracks; describes the cap worn in this picture as the type worn by local peasants and speculates whether Cézanne, his father, a hatmaker, or the sitter owned the hat; calls the works of this series "the most extraordinary pictures produced in the 1860s," observing that they are "virtually sculpted in paint".
Gary Neil Wells. "Metaphorical Relevance and Thematic Continuity in the Early Paintings of Paul Cézanne, 1865–1877." PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1987, pp. 71–73, 76–81, 106 n. 53, p. 276, pl. XVIII, suggests that here Dominique may be dressed as an artist, noting that Cézanne sometimes wore a smock while at work; compares the jacket to that in Courbet's "Pierre-Joseph Proudhon [sic] and his Family" (1865–67; Musée du Petit Palais, Paris) and the cap to one in a self-portrait (Bayerische Staatsgemaldesammlungen, Munich; V284, R510); concludes that it depicts the generic costume of a "middle-class professional, representing Dominique in a role not unlike Cézanne's own father, a man who could move comfortably between trade and profession, artisan and bourgeois class"; observes that for Cézanne "the artisan represents training, talent and skill".
Lawrence Gowing inCézanne: The Early Years 1859–1872. Ed. Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New York, 1988, pp. 9, 92, 100, 102, 104, 112–14, 182, 215, 218, no. 22, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 1988, pp. 22, 86, 92, 94–95, 100–101, 152, 188–89, 200, 205, 211, no. 22, ill. (color)], calls it "The Man with the Cotton Cap (Uncle Dominique)"; dates it about 1866, noting that the series was executed between August 1866 and January 1867; comments that in this picture the sitter dons the role of "an artisan and a man of the people".
Richard Shone. "London, Royal Academy: Early Cézanne." Burlington Magazine 130 (June 1988), p. 481, fig. 75.
Sylvie Patin inCézanne: The Early Years 1859–1872. Ed. Mary Anne Stevens. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts, London. New York, 1988, pp. 61, 65 nn. 63, 65, 71 [French ed., Paris, 1988, pp. 60, 64 nn. 63, 65, 71].
John Rewald with the research assistance of Frances Weitzenhoffer. Cézanne and America: Dealers, Collectors, Artists and Critics, 1891–1921. The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, Princeton, 1989, pp. 327, 349, figs. 170 (installation photo), 171, calls it "Portrait of Uncle Dominique" and dates it about 1866.
Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer. "Museum News: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 'Cézanne: The Early Years, 1859–1872'." Art Journal 49 (Spring 1990), pp. 72–74, fig. 2, dates it 1866; compares Cézanne's use of the palette knife in pictures such as this one to Maurice de Vlaminck's later "brutal carvings of pigment"; comments that the portraits of Dominique Aubert represent "emblematic portrayals of contemporary social types," through the use of a variety of headgear and costumes, calling ours "a bourgeois in his nightcap and robe".
Hajo Düchting. Paul Cézanne 1839–1906: Natur wird Kunst. Ed. Ingo F. Walther. [Engl. ed., 1999]. Cologne, 1990, pp. 34–35, 37, ill. (color), dates it 1865.
Gary Tinterow and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1994, pp. 202–3, 296, 345–46, no. 25, fig. 252 (color), ill. p. 345 [French ed., "Impressionnisme: Les origines, 1859–1869," Paris, 1994, pp. 202–3, 344–45, no. 25, fig. 252 (color), ill. p. 344], call it "L'Oncle Dominique (Uncle Dominique)" and date it about 1866; remark that the portraits of Dominique "reveal little of the sitter's personality but a great deal of the artist's thoughts about social types".
Maria Teresa Benedetti. Cézanne. [Italian ed., 1995]. Paris, 1995, p. 52, ill. (color).
Kirk Varnedoe. Studies in Modern Art. The Museum of Modern Art at Mid-Century: Continuity and Change. Ed. John Elderfield. Vol. 5, The Evolving Torpedo: Changing Ideas of the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of The Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1995, pp. 50–51, 55–56, 59, 61–62, ill. p. 42, as "Dominique Aubert, the Artist's Uncle (Man in a Blue Cap)"; reproduces Museum of Modern Art documents listing this picture as part of an "ideal collection" of nineteenth-century paintings and as among the paintings that would eventually be sold to the MMA.
John Rewald, in collaboration with Walter Feilchenfeldt, and Jayne Warman. The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1996, vol. 1, pp. 102, 563, 566–67, 570, 572–73, no. 107; vol. 2, p. 36, fig. 107, calls it "L'Homme au bonnet de coton (L'Oncle Dominique)," and dates it about 1866; catalogues eight other portraits of Uncle Dominique (nos. 102–6, 108–9, 111) and one tentatively identified as the sitter (no. 110).
Henri Loyrette inCézanne. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. Philadelphia, 1996, pp. 87–89, 91–92, no. 7, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 1995, pp. 88–89, 91–92, no. 7, ill. (color)], dates it to the fall of 1866.
Karen Wilkin. New Criterion. Vol. 14, Monsieur Pellerin's Collection. April 1996, p. 22.
James H. Rubin. Courbet. London, 1997, p. 319, fig. 208 (color).
John House in Sona Johnston. Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from American Collections. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. New York, 1999, pp. 22–23, fig. 11 (color), compares the paintings of Uncle Dominique to Rembrandt's self-portraits depicting the artist in metaphorical or biblical guises.
Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Modern Art Comes to the Metropolitan: The 1921 Exhibition of 'Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings'." Apollo 152 (October 2000), pp. 4, 9, fig. 3 (color), notes that de Zayas lent this picture to the MMA exhibition in 1921.
Nina Maria Athanassoglou-Kallmyer. Cézanne and Provence: The Painter in His Culture. Chicago, 2003, pp. 75–76, fig. 2.24 (color), calls it "L'Homme au bonnet de coton (L'oncle Dominique)" and dates it about 1866; remarks that "Dominque's dress of turban, nightcap, and bathrobe emulates caricatures of archetypal bourgeois".
Rona Roob. "Patrons: A Noble Legacy." Art in America 91 (November 2003), pp. 78, 83 n. 47, notes that Bliss purchased this picture from de Zayas.
Bruno Ely. "'Pater omnipotens Aeterne Deus': L'achat et la vente du Jas de Bouffan par la famille Cézanne." Jas de Bouffan—Cézanne. Aix-en-Provence, 2004, ill. p. 24 (color).
Joachim Pissarro. Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne & Pissarro 1865–1885. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2005, p. 37, ill. p. 77 (color detail) and colorpl. 7.
Philip Conisbee in Philip Conisbee and Denis Coutagne. Cézanne in Provence. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2006, p. 11.
Denis Coutagne in Philip Conisbee and Denis Coutagne. Cézanne in Provence. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 2006, pp. 81, 316, no. 9, colorpl. 9, calls it "Uncle Dominique in a Cotton Cap" and dates it about 1866.
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 106, 184, no. 72, ill. (color and black and white).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 120, 218, no. 109, ill. (color and black and white).
MaryAnne Stevens inManet: Portraying Life. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. London, 2012, p. 197, under no. 50, finds a predecessor for Cézanne's "application of slabs of constructive brushwork" in these portraits of his uncle in Manet's "Victorine Meurent" (ca. 1862, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
Charlotte Hale in Dita Amory. Madame Cézanne. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 175 n. 21, notes its colored priming.
Originally referred to as a self-portrait, this work was identified as a portrait of Cézanne's uncle in 1923 (see Rivière 1923). It belongs to a series of nine portraits of Dominique Aubert that Cézanne painted in the fall of 1866 at his father's home, the Jas de Bouffan in Aix. The other portraits are in the MMA (1993.400.1; R107), the Musée d'Orsay, Paris (R106), the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena (R102), King's College, Cambridge, on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum (R111), and various private collections (R103, 104, 105, 109).